Many churches have a leadership development plan, I suppose. Ours is pretty organic and frankly, has a lot of room to grow. We’re great at identifying and approaching potential leaders and we’re good at loving on them in leadership but we could drastically improve how well we equip and develop our leaders. Many of our best leaders feel ill equipped to lead, even though they are fantastic at it. After 5+ years of MHP Lead Pastoring, I’m just now learning how I need to create an equipping culture at this church.
Still, we’re good at identifying and elevating people into leadership and I’ve noticed that our approach is unique among churches around here.
Here’s what we’ve learned over the last few years.
Many churches have a statement of faith, character assessment and expectations for leaders etc. We have those too, but our primary qualifier for leadership is very very simple:
Who among us gets it? Who is already living the vision of the church right where they are?
When we succinctly state our vision with words, which people come to mind?
I’m not looking for people who fully embody the whole vision of the church – none of us embody it all (we are, after all, only one part of the body of Christ.) I’m just looking for people who live out a key piece of it. They’re passionate about it, they sacrifice for it. They’re already living it.
Presuming these people have the necessary character and beliefs, we elevate them to leadership. We do it publicly and we state why they are now in leadership very specifically.
Two examples: “We’re bringing Mary onto leadership because she is a discipleship machine. Not only does she actively disciple many of you, but many of you are at this church because of her invitation and pursuit. When we talk about being a welcoming church to anybody regardless of background or experience, she is a prime example of a welcoming person. We’re excited to see how God will use her in this new leadership role.”
“Have you noticed how James is always around serving? First one to come setup, last one to pack up. Nothing glorious about setting up a portable church, but James is faithful to help and is always looking for ways to make a difference. He’s a servant and now he’s becoming a servant leader because he gets the value that none of us are too good to sweat for this church and, as we got to know James, we discovered that there is a pastor’s heart living in that servant minded person.”
By elevating the people who “get it” to a leadership role (ministry team leader, teacher, elder), we are showing the church that we are serious about our vision.
The litmus test of leadership development at our church: who, if they left, would leave a gap in our fleshed out vision?
I can’t tell you how many churches around here elevate people to leadership because of their age or because they’ve been around a long time. Age brings wisdom, tenure brings perspective, but nothing brings energy to a church like elevating a person already living a piece of the vision into a leadership role.
MHP, you can talk til you’re red in the face about the vision of the church and people will yawn. Old news, heard it before.
But point to the people who are living it, celebrate them and elevate them and now you’ve got an army waiting to go fight with you.